Futurama: S03E09: The Cyber House Rules
This episode has never really made a big impression with me, much like That’s Lobstertainment! It’s a decent episode however, and I really enjoy watching Bender “parent” his little wards, long before the remake of Cheaper by the Dozen. Bender is the most inconsistent character in the series, emotionally speaking, but I guess that’s what makes him one of the most interesting as well. Fry and Leela take one more baby step on the road to romance. I like how Leela is the clueless one in the romance, even though Fry is as dumb as a box of rocks. Nothing terribly remarkable as far as animation goes, this show is pretty consistent with high end animation.
When the doorbell rings, Leela is the only one willing to drag her butt off the couch to answer it. She finds what may be a foundling baby in a basket. After she keeps Bender from squishing it into goo, she sees it’s really a cleverly packaged invitation to the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium reunion. That name says it all: sweet, loveable yet dream-squashingly institutional. Remembering what an outcast she was, Leela isn’t so keen on the idea of attending the festivities. Fry and Bender offer to go with her to impress her friends with their ability to gobble vast amounts of free food. Their magnanimous offer not withstanding, she decides to attend and show those bozos that she’s made something of herself.
Leela shows Fry and Bender around her old stomping grounds and shows them some old photos of her outside of the group. Poor old Leela was so lonely that she even had a crush on one of those mean little bastards. Fry and Bender make themselves at home at the buffet while Leela psychs herself up to meet and greet her old tormenters. Though she’s the only one of her contemporaries to have a job and all her own body parts, she’s still a pitied laughing stock. Her former secret crush, Adlai, steps in to quiet the ruckus. He’s impressed with her ability to lead a perfectly average life.
Meanwhile, the director of the orphanarium, Mr. Vogel, is trying to entice Fry to adopt some children. He points out that he would get $100 a month for each child he adopts. Fry isn’t interested, but Bender’s greed moves him to adopt a dozen kids. Adlai and Leela spend an enjoyable afternoon catching up. When she tells him she wished she were more normal, he tells her he’s a doctor. He goes on to tell her that he can give her phaser eye surgery to help her reach her goal. He would make a nonfunctional paraffin wax eye and graft it to her face with skin from her foot.
Back at the office, Fry isn’t too pleased with the idea of Leela changing herself to fit in. He’s glad she’s not your average person with two eyes. She goes ahead with it anyway and the surgery is a success. Her new eye thrills Leela and she spends the next few days reveling in being normal. She throws out all her monocles, buys a few dozen pairs of sunglasses and takes a lesson from Amy on how to apply makeup for two eyes. Everyone in the office, except Fry, loves the new Leela; he was happier with her before the surgery. Adlai swings by the office to check out Leela’s progress and asks her out on a date, now that she’s normal. What an ass!
Bender has his hands full dealing with his new kids. It’s a little difficult for him to pick up chicks while trying to keep up with the wee (and weeweeing) ones. Their need to eat every other day or so annoys him to no end as well. Bender is, after all, well known for his tendency to be offended by basic human bodily functions. Adlai and Leela spend ever more time together being normal so she invites the staff to dinner at Elzar’s to get to know him better. Fry is still pissed that Leela is so happy settling for being average with Adlai. Bender uses this opportunity to teach the kids how to run out on the check and use robot manners.
Bender: “What do we say?!”
Orphan: “‘Bout time!”
Bender does the math at the end of the month and figures out he’s losing money on the rugrats, so they gotta go! After unsuccessfully attempting to sell them to a Chinese restaurant as livestock, he settles for opening his own discount orphanage. At this point, Leela and Adlai decide to take the next big step in their relationship and adopt a child together, so off they go to loveable ol’ Bender. In the midst of their perusal, the cops take Bender into custody for his earlier attempt to sell the kids among other charges. The kids go along as evidence so the cops allow Leela and Adlai to continue the adoption process at the jail. They finish checking out all the kids and can’t choose one. Then Leela picks a little girl with an ear on her forehead (“I also have a tail!”) being teased by the other kids. At first, Adlai is against it, but says he can make the girl acceptable with plastic surgery. Told you he was an ass! And how did a little girl with a vestigial ear and a tail end up on the surface instead of with the mutants. She doesn’t have Leela’s excuse of being an alien. Leela has an epiphany and tells him that the little girl is fine the way she is and so was she. She has him take her to the hospital and reverse her eye surgery immediately.
Leela: “Take me to the hospital right now and fix my eye!”
Adlai: “Why should I?”
Leela: “Listen buddy, one of us is going to leave here today with one eye!”
Bender returns the kids to the orphanarium, saving it from ruin. Mr. Vogel renames it the Bender B. Rodriguez Orphanarium. The kids leave Bender with a picture they drew of them all as a family and tell him they’ll miss him. He plays it cool and tosses the picture away until the kids are gone, then sticks it onto the door of his chest cavity. They see him and get him in dog pile o’ orphan love. Leela thanks Fry for sticking by her and appreciating her for all she is. They’re both glad she’s back to her old self.
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Futurama reviews are © 2006 Chrystal Litchford.
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Futurama names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Images courtesy of ‘The Leela Zone’